O give thanks unto the Lord for He is good, His mercy endures forever (1 Chr 16:34). Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church - Winnipeg, MB
You shall not covet
You shall not covet
Based on 2 Sam. 11:1-4
Preached on Ash Wednesday – Feb. 14, 2018
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“I am the LORD your God. You shall not covet.”
King David. Doesn’t do his kingly vocation. “In the spring when kings go off to war” David farms it all out to General Joab. It’s up to General Joab to fight Israel’s enemies and defend Israel’s borders while King David loafs. Joab ravages and besieges. David dawdles. Joab and all Israel are fighting in the field. David bums around at home.
On the couch. Watching Netflix. The Olympics. The Jets. The Bombers. My responsibilities – my God-given vocations - are going to have to wait because I want to be on my couch.
God gives us plenty of important work to do – to keep us out of trouble. You don’t have to be king. Are you a father, mother, son, daughter, husband, wife or worker? Then you have been given these precious people as good gifts from God. Callings. Vocations – like king. You have something to offer them, and trusting that these are good gifts from God, you’ll seldom find yourself on the couch when the war is going on. But you know how it is – you’ve been in your vocation a little while, you’ve begun to trust what your eyes see in those people, instead of the Word that God speaks about them, and your duty to them. You don’t see any glory in serving them. The passionate feeling has worn off. They’ve become familiar, unexciting, boring – and you begin to want…
That’s all that coveting is really: wanting. Desire. Wanting to have what belongs to another. And to the world, wanting is fashionable. Sophisticated. The world views highly those “who know what they want.” The ones who have really honed their coveting, practiced hard and built up that wanting muscle. You shall not covet.
But who controls what they want? It’s not really something you actively think about, is it? Ok, I’m going to want this, and I’m not going to want that. No. You just want. Your desires rule you. You don’t control them. And this – God says – is the problem. This is original Sin. Capital “S” Sin that is at work in us. That Slavemaster Sin that we cannot free ourselves from. A sinful heart. Nevertheless, God says, “You shall not covet.”
We need to know how enslaved we are to Sin. Because we would deny it. St. Paul would deny it. He wrote, “I would not have known coveting was wrong, had God not said, “You shall not covet.” It’s like He threw it into the Ten Commandments at the end just in case you thought He only cared about the way you behave on the outside. No. God wants you totally pure. From the inside out. Your desires. Your thoughts. Your words. Your actions. But as we can see – the whole problem starts in the heart, as we begin to want…
And so one night when David can’t sleep he spots her. He can’t believe his eyes! She’s taking a bath! Right out in the open! What kind of women would do that? It is as if she wants to be seen on purpose! Perhaps she has something on her mind! Hmm?
He can’t take his eyes off her. She’s gorgeous! Stunning! What a body! He knows he shouldn’t look, but he is not content. He’s come to despise the good gifts God has actually granted to him – to despise his duties – they’re so boring – not good enough – but this - this is exciting. Thrilling. The mere thought stirs him out of the mundane regularness.
Who is she? This naked bathing beauty? As if David didn’t know.
Her name is Bathsheba. And she has a wedding ring on her finger! She is married to Uriah the Hittite! What’s more – she is the daughter of Eliam his personal bodyguard, and Ahithophel his court counselor. Beautiful Bathsheba: Eliam’s daughter – Uriah’s wife. They all know each other! Very well!
And King David covets her. Doesn’t give a rip that she’s married. He wants her. And he wants her now! Badly. He will satisfy his desires no matter what. No matter who he hurts. No matter whose lives he destroys. Now matter who he has to kill. HE WILL have what he wants! He will have her! He is the king! And what the king does is right!
So he barks out orders: “Go fetch her for me! Chop! Chop!” “And don’t forget to sneak her through the back door! I’ll have the lights dimmed, the candles lit, and the romantic music playing softly!” Off go David’s servants. To her house. Right across the street no doubt!
“Good Evening Madam Bathsheba, daughter of Eliam and wife of Uriah. My, don’t you look ravishing tonight. The king requests your …. presence. Please follow us.” And they escort the ravishing bombshell directly to the king’s bedroom. The one-night-stand is consummated! Underneath the canopy and between the sheets of his majesty’s royal bed! His coveting led directly to physically adulterating his marriage and Bathsheba’s. And David could care less. He got what he wanted! He got what he coveted!
What or who is it that you covet?
What’s that? You say you don’t covet? Nonsense! Of course you do! You are no better than King David. You are just as bad as King David.
Your coveting knows no bounds! It ranges from another person’s spouse all the way to your neighbor’s land, home, or investments! You name it. Whatever your neighbor has – you want it! You think you are more deserving of it than them. You’re never content with what God has given you, because there’s a deep dark part of you that doesn’t want to be content. It wants to want. So God uses His Word like a spiritual MRI – You shall not covet – He says, and what He sees, is really bad.
But here is the good news! Really, really great news! His name is Jesus. God was in Christ Jesus reconciling the world to Himself – NOT COUNTING YOUR SINS AGAINST YOU! Imagine that! God forgives. He forgives you! Because of Jesus! And only because of Jesus!
How can this be? Here’s how! God made Jesus, the sinless and perfectly holy one, TO BE SIN! To become your false desires, your lustful looks, your greediness, your bitterness, your anger, your rebellion and all the irreligiousness in you.
“He who knew no sin was made to be sin.” And to be cursed! Yes, that’s right! Jesus was determined to go all the way for your salvation. He coveted something of yours – your sin, so that could suffer for it, die for it, and save your from it. He wouldn’t stop until He took all your sin and destroyed it in Himself! “God has laid on him the iniquity of us all,” (Isaiah 53).
Perfect and holy Jesus is made to be sin by bearing all your sin, all my sin, all the world’s sin in His body. So much so that Jesus is MAXIMUM SINNER! He willingly goes under the Law and endures His Father’s wrath against all sin and every sinner! In your place. Vicariously! The greatest and only sacrifice that atones for sin: Good Friday’s Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
Now that the Law has accused Christ on the cross, it looks all around. It looks at you. But you are baptized into Christ’s death. Jesus gives you His Good Friday Body and Blood to eat and drink right here. And in Christ - the Law is fulfilled for you. All the Law’s accusations are used up in Him, and what’s left are His precious promises. You are forgiven. All your sin. All your coveting is answered for – and you have peace with God in Christ Jesus your Lord. Have a happy Ash Wednesday and a wonderful Lent! In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
Rev. Cameron Schnarr